Promotions you regret

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by ETinCYQX, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Most of you know my background by now-when I started teaching I had just turned 19 and just been promoted to first Dan.

    When I graded, I spent six solid months training every day perfecting everything. I drove 4 hours at least once a month, usually twice, to train at our head school for a weekend. I worked on my strength and conditioning, got stronger than I had ever been, faster than I had ever been, in order to be the best martial artist I had ever been when I became a black belt. And I was. I scored high marks on everything, set a blistering time for the physical test, I was very proud of my performance. I felt I had earned my black belt and I could wear it with pride. I promised I would feel the same way about all of my own promotions and those of my students.

    Fast forward to a year later. I had been teaching three nights a week, getting up at 6 to get my workout in, training every spare minute and going to engineering school. I had the intention of grading to 2nd dan as fast as possible. I had a black stripe student who is closely related to me who had gotten the rank years before, and she wanted to get her black belt. Ok, cool.

    I start to have to prod her to go to class, she never finished a warm up, more often than not didnt finish sparring rounds, started missing classes for no reason and never practiced.

    What did I do? Let her grade anyway. At the same time I got my 2nd Dan. She half assed the grading, barely passed, and hasn't trained since. She talked about wanting to coach, and "inspire future females", when she moved to go to university, and hasn't bothered to make a class. She's a 10 minute walk from our head school. Doesn't stop her from telling everybody "I'm a black belt".

    While I don't blame her, I am horribly embarrassed that I played a part in her getting her black belt. I feel it undermines my credibility as a teacher and as a martial artist, and I wish I could take it back. Anyone else ever feel like this?
     
  2. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I haven't regretted promoting anyone. I have had a few quit training, one or two shortly after reaching shodan which disappointed me, but they deserved their rank having trained for it and surpassing the level of skill/knowledge I set for the belt.

    Are you saying that this student should never been allowed to test? If so, I understand your feelings if you let her slide on the requirements a bit, especially if it was because she's a close family member. On the other hand, if she met the minimum standard at the time of the test, no matter how thinly, I wouldn't kick myself over it.
     
  3. Gorilla

    Gorilla Master of Arts

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    I am guessing that she is around your age...this is a tough time for female athletes...they have a hard time keeping focused as it us a transition period to college allot of distractions...understand that and keep talking to he about it...based on your passion I would bet that you will need to soften your approach
     
  4. StudentCarl

    StudentCarl 3rd Black Belt

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    You have taken on and been given great responsibility for your age and rank. It doesn't make sense to me that as a first dan you would have authority to determine whether someone tests for dan rank. Was this solely your decision or did you have oversight or at least mentorship? Did you run the test? I don't doubt your dedication or sincerity, only whether your seniors bear some responsibility for your situation. In the KKW system, you would not have that promotion authority.

    Carl
     
  5. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Ethan, you didn't promote her. The responsibility for her having first dan is down to the promoter. Often people leave after getting black belt, they feel they are 'done', don't let it phase you. And of course she will tell people, she's proud of it.

    I understand you may feel regret as you could have stopped her by not recommending her, but remember first dan is only the first step on the ladder. She can't promote others, so someone will still be watching over any students she trains.

    Just keep doing the best you can do and try not to have regrets.

    In this case, either put it behind you and just be happy for her achievement - or try to fill her with enthusiasm for getting back on the horse (in the dojang).
     
  6. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    It's debatable IMO. Reflecting on it, she probably does meet the standard for black belt as she has a fair bit of natural talent. She is pretty technically solid, but she doesn't have the same thirst to learn taekwondo that I do. I tend to forget sometimes that there are different approaches to taekwondo and different ways to learn, maybe I should consider that. :)

    She's 2 years younger, yeah. I burnt out on Taekwondo pretty severely around that age as well, thinking about it, but I was training a lot more at that point.

    Well, when my instructor moved, I was ready for 1st Dan. His instructor who is my instructor now asked me if I would take over from him, and I said yes, just in order to keep taekwondo active here. I did not run gradings, he did, and I would decide when my students were ready. I didn't run the grading, I graded at the same time actually. Done by my instructor who is 6 dan.

    I guess I really should soften my views on it. Knowing her as well as I do is probably a lot of the reason it bothers me so much, there are lots of worse black belts out there. I shouldn't expect everybody to meet the same standard I set for myself.
     
  7. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    Exactly. It's great that you are fanatical about training and aiming for perfection (and please don't lose that, we need more Taekwondoin like that) but if you expect that much from everyone you will a)be disappointed and lose interest/enthusiasm and b)miss out on helping a lot of people get a lot of benefit from Taekwondo even though they aren't as gifted/mentally focussed as you.

    You are only a 2nd Dan. By the time you reach 4th/5th/whatever you will have more experience of what each of the ranks means to you, what you expect from people of those ranks and maybe realise that people don't have to train like nutters to get on the first rung of the black belt level ;-)

    I sincerely wish you luck and success! You're doing a great job and I think you're thinking the right thoughts.
     
  8. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Thanks Andy, I appreciate your words as always. :)

    I'm sure as I get more experience and more perspective my views will soften up a bit. I'm sure a lot of my feelings on my black belt test had to do with being 1) 1st dan who was going to end up teaching and 2) as young as I was. I really wanted to set an example when I did my grading. for myself as much as for anyone else.
     
  9. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

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    Well, the only thing I can say about this is use what happened as a learning experience. If you want to keep a high bar for dan promotions of your students realize that letting them test when the are exhibiting behavior like that you described probably will result in a repeat of the situation. If you revise your views on rank then it might not be a big deal. If you want to hold on to your standards remember it as a kind of cautionary tale.

    I've not had that experience before. I always told my students that TIG was the least of their worries when it came to being ready to grade. They never asked to grade. I always told them when they were ready.

    If it's any consolation the longer you remain in martial arts the more things you're going to see very similar things.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  10. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    one way to avoid this is to remember that "time in grade" is only a guide. We usually get told when to grade after our time in grade is up. If someone who just rolls up once a week and puts little effort in wants to grade, they are told to wait extra time until they are ready. My instructor has a rule that any first gup or above that wants to grade must first spar every black belt in the class on the same night, starting with lowest rank and working up in order of rank. Before my first dan grading I had to spar about fifteen black belts ranging from first to sixth dan to prove I was "ready" (fortunately for me it was a small class that night as we usually have about 30 black belts :)) This certainly sorts out who is taking grading seriously and who is not. It also means that if they do quit after black belt at least they are a decent black belt.123
     

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